The national dish of Scotland is haggis. It is a type of savory pudding. Haggis is a tasty dish, made using sheep pluck (the lungs, hearts, and liver). The cooked minced offal is mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasonings and encased in the sheep stomach. Once stitched up, the stuffed stomach is boiled for up to three hours. If the thought of cooking the animal parts is off-putting, there is commercial haggis available. You can buy it ready to eat. The best known (including a vegetarian version) from Charles MacSween & Son in Edinburgh. If you are making your own, be sure to follow the top tips for buying, preparing, and cooking haggis.
Is It Illegal in the United States?
In the 1970s the United States banned the import of food containing sheep lung. As most traditional haggis recipes are made with lung, it's nearly impossible to find imported commercial haggis. Most haggis found in the United States is made in the country.
Once it has been steamed and cooked through, there are many popular ways to serve haggis. Try it with a full Scottish breakfast or with hearty tatties and neeps (tatties are Scottish for potatoes and neeps are turnips) for an authentic experience. These are the more traditional ways to eat haggis.
For pairing purposes, you may want to stick with a Scottish theme and select only beverages from Scotland. This might include a nice Scotch whiskey for a thematically appropriate spirit. If you are not a fan of having hard liquor at meals, you could always go with an acidic red wine or a strong, dark beer.
The Haggis was immortalized by the poet Robert Burns in his poem "Address to the Haggis" written in the 18th century. Robert Burns is celebrated in Scotland and throughout the world on Burns Night, January 25th, in memory of the Scottish poet. Common celebration food includes haggis. It is eaten with tatties and neeps alongside other Scottish favorites like cock-a-leekie (chicken vegetable) soup and cranachan, a dessert made from raspberry, toasted oatmeal, and cream.
"Address to a Haggis" by Robert Burns
Here is the famous poem that is celebrated throughout Scotland:
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!